The feeling of spotting a leak in your home is never great, and they always seem to crop up at the wrong time. They come in all shapes and sizes, with the added stress of how to go about fixing the problem. Here we hope to give you an insight into different leaks and how to spot them to stay ahead of the drip!
Finding the source of a leak is quite often half the job. Once you have found the cause, then you can plan the repair. A simple rule to remember is that water mostly wants to travel down, so if you find a wet pipe, then trace the water up until you find dryness. You will then know that the water is coming from the last wet patch. Having said that water will also travel across a flat surface like a solid floor which is not perfectly level, which is more than you think. So sometimes, you have to look horizontally too to get close to the problem.
Some leaks are difficult to find and can require more extensive searching, known as trace and repair. Cutting holes in ceilings, walls, and lifting floors are all likely parts of hunting down the cause of a drip.
Some companies specialise in leak detection who use non-evasive methods with technical equipment. These are fantastic though they come at quite a high cost. It is worth weighing up the cost of being pointed directly to the source of the problem to the cost of repairing inaccurate holes in walls and damage to floors. Especially in your nicely finished decorated home, leak detection specialists are a very efficient way to detect the leak and get the job done.
Problems caused by undetected leaks
Leaks that go undetected can cause severe damage to your home, as well as escalate into different issues. An unknown leak can seep into the fabric of a building, into wooden walls, floorboards, joists, and in worse case scenarios cause structural problems, which will lead to expensive repairs. Dampness hidden out of sight can travel across horizontally soaking into finished wooden floors, disrupt adhesive on tiled floors and ruin a carpet in no time; being aware and quick responding to the sign of a leak is vital to avoiding extreme repairs.
Water-drips can fall onto electrics, causing fuse boards to trip, blow fuses, cause permanent damage to the electrical point and worse cases make a deadly situation. There are regulations for plumbers and electricians to follow. However, since the water travels freely, sometimes accidents are unavoidable. The best thing is to make sure you use qualified tradesmen, and then have the best practices in place.
For those leaks that can cause extreme damages and requires extensive repairs to your plumbing and home decorating, our recommendation would be to check your home insurance policy. Most good policies will have you covered to avoid financial stress.
Types of leaks
They come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes in plain view through the kitchen ceiling and other times hidden under the bath, but one thing can be for sure, there is no such thing as a good leak.
- A leak on a hot or cold pipe on a mains water system, also known as a pressurised system, is generally the worst because undetected they can leak at a very high flow of water causing extreme damage and go non-stop till the water is isolated.
- Leaking radiators are easy to spot as they can make a mess of your floor, and if you have a gravity central heating system, they can also leak non-stop until fixed.
- Boilers can leak, which can stop them from functioning, and in worse cases, they will need replacing, costing lots of money. An old boiler is best kept an eye on, and it’s ideal to be proactive in knowing when the boiler is at the end of its life (if possible) to avoid being without central heating or hot water in winter.
- Hidden leaks on waste or soil pipes can cause severe damage and often lead to extensive repair work due to poor access. These leaks can also be smelly ones which is usually the clue that something is not quite right.
- The only leaks that are most likely to be good ones are that come out of a warning pipe. Tanks in lofts have warning pipes that should terminate above a doorway or obvious place out of the eaves of your roof. So that you know, there is a problem that requires attention. Old toilets have the same warning pipes, while new ones have internal overflows, which is where you see a trickle inside the toilet pan; this is telling you that a valve inside the cistern needs attention. The last of this type are pressure relief pipes. They are the copper pipes terminating outside coming from a boiler, central heating system, or unvented cylinder; they are telling you that a relief valve is leaking due to another component that has failed on the system, and it’s time to take a look.
Common signs of leaks in your property
As mentioned above, the best signs of leaks in your home are those dripping from warning pipes, which signals an attention requirement on your system. This is usually at an early stage for you to fix the issue before it is anything too severe and will avoid any damages being caused in your home. Stains on ceilings, walls, and floors should be an immediate sign that there is a possible leak nearby. Jump to the action!
Smells can be a sign that something isn’t right with the plumbing of your home. Damp smells can be on hot or cold pipes, whilst smells with more of a whiff about them can be from water or soil pipes from toilets, showers, baths, or basins. Smells can be red herrings sometimes and not always lead to the easiest leaks to find due to inconsistencies, but at least it is a start and worth investigating straight away.
If you have an emergency water leak at your home, then you can find our ultimate guide here.